Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Mummified bird examined

The University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital has been examining the contents of mummy wrappings on behalf of Spurlock Museum, at the request of the museum's Director, Douglas Brewer: "The mummified bird of prey recently imaged at the UI veterinary school may end up as a gift from an alumnus to the university’s Spurlock Museum. The museum routinely checks potential gifts for authenticity, although it doesn’t normally use a veterinary hospital imaging lab to do so. . . . In the case of the bird mummy, the images from the session will help establish its authenticity, but also may tell researchers things about its age, origin, purpose and more. Brewer got one of his questions answered during the initial examination. From a microscope examination before the imaging session, he could tell there was a bird’s head inside. But he wondered if the linen wrappings contained anything else, perhaps a mouse to feed the hawk in the afterlife. He also wondered whether the wrappings contained a whole bird, or just the head with filler, a bundle of sticks or something else, below. The images from the veterinary hospital, both digital X-rays and a CT scan, revealed a whole bird in stunning detail, but no other items."

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